Bloglet, the gentleman's mock turtle soup --
Moss made it sweeter than myrrh ash and dhoup

My Bluetooth dongle has stopped working. It was fine on Monday, broken on Tuesday, broken yesterday until I fiddled with it in some unknown way, then worked again, and now I can't get it to do a damn thing. You wouldn't think this would be a problem, because my laptop has built-in Bluetooth. But the Bluetooth software on my computer has some kind of stupid security function that won't let it connect to any device unless it pairs with it, and when I contacted the manufacturer of my steno machine to ask him for the pairing code, he said, "Oh, there is no pairing code. Just tell it to connect without pairing." That works for old versions of the software, but not the current one, and I've tried downgrading, but that doesn't work either. So the obvious solution is to use the software that came with the Bluetooth dongle, which does work without pairing, but reconfigure it so that it uses my computer's built-in Bluetooth rather than the dongle. Nope. Bluesoleil 2.6 is old enough to work without pairing, but too old to be aware of the existence of built-in Bluetooth. It's dongles or nothing, as far as it's concerned. Well, I could buy Bluesoleil 6.0, the current version, and then maybe it would let me connect without a dongle. You bet, but not without pairing. "But the manufacturer of my device says there's no pairing code!" I say to the company that makes Bluesoleil. "Check the packaging or user manual of your device for the default code," they say helpfully. "The manufacturer of my device does not know the pairing code, so he was not able to put it on the packaging or the manual." Sucks to be me. Well, I guess I'll just have to use my USB cable, which I used on Tuesday (and which was kind of annoying, especially since I had to ferry both steno machine and laptop back and forth across the room six times over seven hours, and the cable kept getting tangled whenever I moved it.) But of course the USB port in the steno machine is arranged in such a way that I can't actually tilt the left-hand keyboard to a comfortable angle when I'm using the USB cable, because the tilting mechanism is blocked by the cord. Fnarr rarr grumble rumble graaargh. _
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04:51:56 PM, Friday 31 July 2009

Apparently the son of the lawyer with ALS that I worked for in 2004-2005 just got married in May. Nice kid. I always liked him.

His wedding was officiated by Sonia Sotomayor.

Okay! _
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02:56:09 AM, Friday 24 July 2009

I'm not normally one for Contemporary Music, as y'all probably know, but I have to say this is an impressive bit of stitching, and surprisingly pleasant to listen to.

Via Coldink.

ETA: If that isn't your thing, have some more music whose theme was ostensibly composed by a cat:

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06:24:27 PM, Thursday 23 July 2009

People in science fiction books talk a lot less about things being like science fiction books than people in real life do.

Speaking of science fiction and of books, I've figured out a solution to the whole real-book/ebook conundrum that would please me enormously, but probably won't catch on. More's the pity. I have a Blackberry Curve, and I really like it. It fits in my pocket, it's got a really nice display with backlight, and it works as a phone, a web browser, and an ebook reader (using the Mobipocket app). I carry it everywhere. I've bought and downloaded at least a dozen ebooks since I got the phone last winter, and it's been incredibly nice to be able to take out the phone and have it instantly find my place in a several thousand-page book. Because it's so much smaller than an ordinary book -- even a paperback -- it's good for crowded trains and crowded pockets, and because it has its own backlight, it's perfect for reading in bed without bothering K. (I always seem to get insomnia in the summer. Bleh.) Ebooks are also cheaper than regular books, and it's lovely to be able to carry several at a time without increasing the weight or bulk of what I'm carrying.

But every time I buy one, I get a pang. I'm excited because I've just bought whatever book I wanted without having to go to a bookstore, and I'll be able to start reading it instantly. But I feel guilty. I feel like I've selfishly thrown my money away on a pleasant experience that will last a few days, but that I haven't gotten any of the other advantages of buying a book. I won't be able to lend it to anyone when I'm finished, because I don't know anyone else with a Blackberry Curve, and most people I know don't like reading off screens anyway. I won't be able to put it on my shelf and admire it as a new part of the book-filled cavern that is our apartment. I won't be able to read it in the bath. If I get a new phone, or Mobipocket goes under (or, more likely, is subsumed by Amazon, which owns it; maybe I'll get lucky, and it will be merged with the Kindle library so I'll have access to all those books, which would be awesome. Maybe I'll get unlucky and Amazon will pull all of its non-Kindle ebooks so that everyone has to buy the Kindle, which would suck mightily.), or who knows what, all that money goes poof, and I'm left with the memories of the books in my head but nothing else to show for them.

So I think the solution is to offer a free ebook copy of every paper book you buy. I know it would make me buy a hell of a lot more paper books. It would still be nice if I could buy ebook-only editions now and then, for books that I want to read once but know I don't actually want to own or lend to anybody. (Bonus points if buying the ebook version gave me a discount on buying the paper version later on, though that would be complex to handle with independent booksellers.) But for the majority of books, which I buy first to read and second to add to my own physical library, it would be fantastic to buy the physical version, peel off a sticker on the flyleaf, scan the bar code beneath it with my phone, and find myself automatically downloading it to be read anywhere I don't feel like lugging the paper version along. It would eliminate the misgivings I get when I buy a paper book and realize that it's to heavy to read anywhere but at home and that I'll have to get something else for my daily commute, and it would fix the feeling that I'm cheating myself to spend money on an ebook, because it won't give me any of the abiding value of a paper book. The only real problem, I think, would be keeping people from going into bookstores, surreptitiously peeling off stickers, and stealing the one-time downloads of a bunch of books without paying for them; but I'm sure there are ways to prevent that from being too widespread.

Am I the only one for whom this would hit the absolute book-buying sweet spot? _
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12:55:34 PM, Sunday 19 July 2009

Confessions of a Former Iridologist

A fascinating essay by an honest pseudoscientist, and what happened to him after he started studying science. Found this randomly while googling for a term during transcription work. The man who wrote this article is now a nurse.

In related awesomeness, Feynman video lectures, with captions and notes. Takes forever to load, but is pretty fantastic. _
09:13:23 PM, Wednesday 15 July 2009

Homemade lime-lemonade, silly British sketch comedy, an evening home with the girl and cat in the middle of a beautiful temperate summer. _
08:06:12 PM, Tuesday 14 July 2009

Seen at the DMV, a musclebound man with crewcut and no yarmulke sporting the following tattoos:

Star of David underneath snorting unicorn head (left bicep)

Matching barbells (both shoulders)

Chinese dragons (both shoulderblades)

Giant dollar sign (left side of neck)

Hand clutching globe of the world (right side of neck) _
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01:44:51 PM, Monday 13 July 2009

Top Five Chewable Beverages:

1. Goya Coconut Water With Coconut Bits (absolutely addicted to this stuff; I go through several cans a week.)
2. Lavender Bubble Tea
3. Astronaut Sangria (freeze-dried fruit in tonic water with lime juice and grenadine)
4. V8 with Caesar Croutons (my lunch today)
5. Hot Chocolate with stale mini-marshmallows

Special Infamy In Obsolescence Award: Orbitz

ETA: I forgot about aloe vera drinks, which have a lovely succulent texture, but which always seem to be freakishly oversweetened. I found an apple-flavored one in Montreal that was a little less sickly than the ones they sell here, but it still wasn't something I could drink very much of. If I could find a subtly sweetened aloe drink, it might well supplant hot chocolate on the list. _
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04:30:04 PM, Thursday 9 July 2009

Two remarks on the play I just captioned:

1. Schiller wins the Bechdel Test Prize for the 18th Century.

2. "Mary Stuart in a wetsuit!" is my new favorite imprecation. _
11:25:02 PM, Wednesday 8 July 2009

Watching this while listening to this is an interesting experience. Via William Gibson, La Cieca, and their adjacency on my RSS reader. Okay, back to work. Just a minute or two left to go, then dishes, then bed. _
11:14:12 PM, Tuesday 7 July 2009

I'm sitting in my apartment, listening to the fan and the ice cream truck and the airplanes overhead -- none of them loud enough to intrude on my thoughts, but just loud enough to make me realize how calm and still it is in here. My mom is on the couch reading while the cat sleeps next to her with his paw over his nose. K. is hanging out in the bedroom. I'm about to start getting some work done, but I'm just taking a moment to savor the joy of a place filled with people I love, all humming along in their separate orbits. _
05:49:36 PM, Sunday 5 July 2009

Hey, I just got picked as a runner-up in the SugarSync Story Contest. Score. My prize was 30 gigs of free space on SugarSync. It's actually way more useful to me than the grand prize, a Dell netbook, since I have two perfectly good laptops and a UMPC already. Y'all know the story already 'cause I blogged about it a month or so ago, but here it is for posterity anyway. (They posted the grand prize entries, but I don't know if they're going to post the runners-up.)

"I transcribe college classes and other events in realtime for Deaf and hard of hearing clients. Whatever anyone says goes up on the screen, a second after they've said it, at speeds up to 225 words per minute, so my clients are never left out of the conversation. I use a steno machine, a laptop with a wide screen, and a UMPC with a touch screen, all connected via Bluetooth. Sometimes I let my client read off the big screen of the laptop while I work off the UMPC. Sometimes my client wants to move around the room, so I give them the UMPC to carry, while I stay in one place and read off the laptop. I also do some freelance transcription work, and this setup gives me a lot of flexibility. One time I actually transcribed an entire interview while waiting in line for NYC's famous Shake Shack (a burger joint with legendary line lengths), using my UMPC mounted to my steno machine with the tripod jacked way up so I could write while standing. SugarSync lets me keep my 114,000-word steno dictionary and all my other client-specific dictionaries active and updated on both my computers, so I can be prepared to switch from one or the other at a moment's notice. It's so much better than transferring them laboriously by hand using a thumb drive or uploading and then downloading each dictionary through my email account. I hardly even notice the transfer, but the files are always where I need them." _
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09:16:42 PM, Wednesday 1 July 2009

And in continuing ultra-gayness (Hey, it's the last day of June. I'm doing what I can.):

Yma Sumac sings The Queen of The Night

It's too bad the sound quality isn't better, 'cause this rocks my damn socks.

Via Parterre. (Who else?) _
12:30:32 PM, Tuesday 30 June 2009

I'm back! Oh, it was wonderful. I'm not sure if I'll actually be able to dredge up all the necessary words to blog about it or not, but man, that was one great weekend. Meanwhile, 110 Queer Tangos. K. and I definitely want to learn to tango, and there's apparently a free lesson at a queer milonga every Tuesday, so we're gonna try to make it out there at some point during the summer. _
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11:02:32 AM, Tuesday 30 June 2009

Yep, it's that time again. Joe My God mentioned it yesterday, and while I've posted it, what, twice before already, this time is better, 'cause it's in French with subtitles, rather than either the not-quite-as-good English version or the French unsubtitled version.

Also, this weekend is Pride, which we won't be able to attend, because we're leaving tomorrow for our belated honeymoon in Montreal! (We're taking the train up and staying here until Monday. So excited!) That makes reposting the song with bilingual subtitles all the more appropriate, I think. Yes, it's a sad song, but a beautiful one. It rings true, and at the same time, it makes me grateful for how far we've come since it was written. Also for the sensitivity and artistry of Charles Aznavour, a straight man who nevertheless had the guts to write and perform this song back in 1973. I salute him and all our compatriots and allies -- queer and het, cis and trans, butch and nelly, and everything in between. _
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10:52:44 AM, Thursday 25 June 2009

The theater captioning company I work for has an opening for a captioner. They're not looking for stenographers; it's done with a laptop, specialized software, and a big LED sign. If any of you are interested, contact my gmail address, username: askeladden, and I can fill you in on any questions you may have. _
04:18:06 PM, Wednesday 24 June 2009

Okay, so Audiosurf, as I've recently rediscovered, is seriously fun. I downloaded it when it first came out, but my old computer was too old to play it without jerking, so I sort of forgot about it. Then, the other day, I got an email saying, "Your record on the Decemberist's 'Oh, Valencia' has just been beaten", and I was like, "Hey, I remember that game. I was incredibly excited by it, and then it turned out to be slow and annoying. I wonder if it's any better on my new computer." It is. It's freaking great. Now I have to keep myself from playing it for hours on end. I just did The Dance of the Furies on Mono Ninja Elite and I'm still tingling. _
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05:00:25 PM, Monday 22 June 2009

Trust not a man who's rich in flax. _
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02:33:49 PM, Monday 22 June 2009

And to celebrate new mp3 player, new headphones, and new blog rollover, something I haven't done in a while: Guess the lyrics! I looked through one of my old ones, of songs picked at random, and even I couldn't guess most of 'em. So I'm restricting this to lines from songs I can actually sing along with, the first ones to come up from a shuffled sampling of likely songs. I figure it'll be pretty easy.

1. You were the father of modern medicine. Is This What You Wanted, Leonard Cohen

2. This I know from nothing. Lobachevsky, Tom Lehrer (Guessed by Neil)

3. I see centipedes and snakes. All For Me Grog, Traditional (Guessed by Libby)

4. It kind of hovered before my vision. Indier Than Thou, MC Frontalot (Guessed by Remi)

5. Lead, gold, tin, iron, platinum, zinc. Chemical Calisthenics, Blackalicious (Guessed by Martin)

6. Alack-a-day! Oh, woe! Oy vey! The Ballad of Chicken Soup, Carole King (Guessed by Odious)

7. Take me to your daddy's farm.
Back in the USSR, The Beatles (Guessed by Martin)

8. Ne'er once had he murdered, nor looted, nor plundered, nor burned. The Ballad of Richard III, Gwydion Pendderwen (Guessed by Neil)
9. And so begins the final drama. The Internationale, Billy Bragg

10. Look for me with the sun-bright sparrow. Yankee Bayonet, The Decemberists (Guessed by Remi)
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07:25:38 PM, Saturday 20 June 2009

I don't know if any of you guys remember, but back around 2002 I became obsessed with the idea of listening to music while swimming. The only waterproof mp3 players on the market back then were something like $200. Instead, I bought a $15 waterproof pouch off eBay and a $35 flash player -- I don't remember the capacity, but it could only hold about 9 songs -- that was so old it could only connect to my computer via parallel port. These, combined with ordinary earbuds, made for frustrating listening. The earbuds would become waterlogged almost instantly and I could hardly hear anything. It was all absurd-looking, and I'd have to strap it to my middle like some sort of horrible yellow fanny pack. I used the thing maybe half a dozen times but eventually gave it up.

Yesterday, I was at J&R Music World (man, I love that store) buying headphones for transcription. The cheap ones I'd been using were terrible, especially when transcribing on the train or in noisy coffee shops, with staticky audio and improperly amplified respondents. I got some Sennheister HD 280s for $70, which was fantastic. Combined with JackAMP, they've already radically reduced the amount of aggravation I get from my job. This is good. But while I was there, I noticed that they were selling a refurbished 1 gigabyte waterproof Dolphin. For $15.

Fifteen dollars!

I showered with it this morning. It was kickass. _
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05:32:26 PM, Saturday 20 June 2009

Mirabai Knight, CCP

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